LARAMIE MOUNTAINS — Mark Grant recalls childhood days when seeing an elk pass through his family’s property was still rare enough that it was “neat.”

Now there are too many to count — hundreds, sometimes thousands of animals dwell on the Grant family’s Turtle Rock Ranch every day.

“At any given one time, there are more elk on our property than we own cattle,” Grant said from his kitchen table in mid-April. “There were elk this morning on this far meadow. They were down eating the green alfalfa starting to grow.”

For a cattle rancher, coexisting with an abundance of elk isn’t easy. For one thing, it creates competition for food. Cattle eat grass. So do elk. The accumulative loss of food for the species the Grants are intending to grow would be a big hit if not for a Wyoming Game and Fish Department compensation program. 

Turtle Rock Ranch owners Mark and Angela Grant at their kitchen table on April 19, 2022. (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile)

“Our total hay crop is usually around 800 tons of hay,” Grant said, “and with [Game and Fish’s] measurement technique, we’re losing at least 200, sometimes up to 270 tons of hay” to elk. 

It’s not cheap, he said. Last year the cost of getting replacement hay to the family’s remote central Wyoming ranch was $260 a ton. The state agency reimbursed them more than $70,000. 

That’s just the start of Turtle Rock Ranch’s elk problems. Fixing up fences used to take a day or two. Now it’s a two-week-long job. Elk are also a headache in less predictable ways. Tarps that the Grants use to dam up their ditches and flood-irrigate their fields are evidently attractive to the 400-plus pound native ungulates. For some reason the elk have a habit of tugging on the tarps with their mouth and flipping them into the air. In the Wyoming wind, the tarps take sail.

“Talk to a rancher, you’d think the welfare of their cattle, management of their grass and other natural resources would be at the top of their mind,” Grant said. “But now, almost every day, our top concern starts with elk.” 

Issues with overpopulated elk, of course, aren’t restricted to Turtle Rock Ranch. Across the West, state wildlife management agencies have struggled to knock back herd numbers, especially in places where the adaptable animals have learned to take refuge on private property, away from public lands hunters. 

In Wyoming, where elk are overpopulated statewide, the Laramie Mountains are the poster child. This swath of the Rockies’ eastern front reaches from Laramie to Casper, home to the Laramie Peak/Muddy Mountain Herd, which has averaged somewhere between double and triple Game and Fish’s 5,000-elk objective. 

Problems persist because of the patchwork of land ownership, wildlife managers say. The highest-elevation areas are generally part of the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest, state land and Bureau of Land Management property. But interwoven are traditional cattle ranches, mega ranches sprawling out over as many as hundreds of thousands of acres and properties that are bought and held mostly so they can be hunted for a couple weeks a year. When bow- and rifle-toting hunters hit the hills each fall, elk go where they’re most likely to stay alive. They find it on private properties, and now there’s too many of them. 

It’s enough of an issue that a statewide task force is exploring changes to how the Wyoming Game and Fish Department issues licenses that would increase hunting pressure on herds holed up on private land. 

Too many elk

Justin Binfet, who coordinates wildlife for Game and Fish’s Casper Region, has managed the Laramie Peak Herd for two decades. He knows the herd’s history well. Back in the 1960s, Binfet said, there were few enough elk in the region that managers even augmented numbers by releasing elk captured from the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The herd grew, slowly at first, but that growth became exponential. 

“Sometime in the late ‘90s, early 2000s, there was certainly a recognition that elk numbers really took off,” Binfet said. 

Game and Fish responded at the time by more than doubling its population objective for the herd, from 2,250 to 5,000, Binfet said. The state agency also enabled more intensive hunting, doubling licenses doled out, and by 2009 distributed 5,000-plus tags for the zone, elk area seven, which treads into five counties: Albany, Carbon, Natrona, Converse and Platte. Now tags top 6,000. Managers also “dramatically liberalized” the seasons, letting hunters stay at it until the end of January. But there are practical limits and diminishing returns to dialing up the public land hunting pressure in an area with so much private land elk can flee to, he said. 

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department uses fenced enclosures that exclude elk to measure grasses that elk deplete from the pastures the Turtle Rock Ranch feed cattle from. Elk-related losses exceed 200 tons a year, costing the state agencies tens of thousands in depredation payments annually. (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile)

“We’ve really saturated public lands in the area” with hunters, Binfet said. “The hunting experience on public land has really deteriorated from where it was 10, 15 years ago.”

Nevertheless, the Laramie Mountains remain renowned for producing trophy-class bull elk. But sportspeople agree that there are problems. One hunt planning website geared toward public land hunters gave poor marks to ease of access in area seven and scored its “room to breathe” — i.e., competition with other hunters — just 10 out of 100.

“Area seven has a lot of public land. Access is miserable,” Adam Teten, a member of the Wyoming Wildlife Taskforce, said during a March public meeting. “Give out a million tags. You’re still not going to knock down the elk herd because there’s no way for hunters to get in there and be effective.” 

Places of refuge

Down Highway 94 south of Douglas toward diminutive Esterbrook, Dax McCarty manages the hunting operations on the massive Wagonhound Ranch, owned by investment banker Art Nicholas. Wagonhound’s outfitting business takes pride in its resident elk population, he said, but the emphasis is on the quality of the hunting experience, not the quantity. Partly, that emphasis is because there are a limited number of hunters willing to fork over as much as $12,000 to $16,000 for five days of bull elk hunting. There are also limited licenses to go around. Only 15% of tags go to out-of-state hunters, who often wait more than a decade for the chance. 

Dax McCarty supervises the outfitting business for the Wagonhound Ranch, which sprawls over 300,000-acres in central Wyoming. (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile)

“The majority of our outfitting revenue is driven by non-resident hunters,” McCarty said. “When it’s that hard to draw a tag, you almost have to keep your quality up or you’re not going to be able to convince guys to use 12-plus years of preference points, let alone pay the money.” 

That’s not to say Wagonhound Ranch-outfitted elk hunters only kill a few animals. During the fall 2021 hunt, hunters killed approximately 160 elk on the ranch. Of those, 36 were trophy bulls, 42 were smaller “raghorn” bulls and the balance were cows and calves. Many of the hunts were free of charge, especially for the non-trophies, McCarty said.

While that might sound like a lot of hunting pressure, relatively it’s not. The Wagonhound Ranch, at around 300,000 acres, is roughly the same size as Grand Teton National Park. 

The Wagonhound has played around with allowing more public hunters onto its land for free cow-calf hunts that would trim the herd, but those efforts backfired. 

“There were hundreds and hundreds of people coming in and out, and they did it dang near every day,” McCarty said. “It took a ton of resources from the ranch and manpower and fuel.” 

McCarty champions some changes to license issuance that could increase hunting pressure, like increasing numbers of landowner licenses and allowing Wagonhound to sell them. But he knows those options will never be popular. 

“I don’t know how you do it,” McCarty said. The only way to address the overpopulation issue, he said, is to figure out some ways to incentivize landowners to kill more elk. 

But even that may not be a silver bullet. 

Casper businessman Rick Bonander in his office at Intermountain Pipe and Threading Company, which services the mining and oil and gas industries. (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile)

Casper businessman Rick Bonander is an example of a landowner who bought up land in the Laramie Mountains so he, friends and family have somewhere to hunt. He purchased roughly 3,500 acres southwest of Laramie Peak, dubbed the Windy Peaks Ranch, that entitles him to two landowner elk licenses a year. 

Elk herds bounce on and off Bonander’s property, but he agreed with the assessment that his land also provides them a place of sanctuary. There are “five to 10” elk killed each year on the remote ranch, he said. 

“I’m sure that [elk are] likely to hang there longer because they don’t get interacted with much,” he said. 

The current system, in Bonander’s view, is working. “I don’t think there’s an overpopulation at my place,” he said. “Sometimes they’re very hard to find. I’ve gone out some days and not seen an elk.” 

Winds of change

That’s not the prevailing viewpoint, however. 

Even some hunting outfitters have gone to bat trying to reduce elk herds in places like the Laramie Mountains. Sy Gilliland, president of the Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association, described overpopulated elk as “terrorists” destroying some ranches that his guides lead clients on. 

“The landowners out there that are really angry, are really angry, and what we’ve done to them needs to be reconsidered,” Gilliland told fellow members of the Wyoming Wildlife Taskforce in March. “We’ve turned a species loose on them that is destroying their way of life, and we did it without asking them.” 

Cattle are omnipresent in the Laramie Mountains, seasonally grazing private pastureland along the range’s lower-elevation fringes and higher-elevation federal grazing allotments in summer. This inquisitive black cow strayed from its herd on April 19, 2022 south of Glenrock. (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile)

The 18-member task force, appointed by leaders of the Legislature, governor’s office and Game and Fish, was devised to study and identify solutions to top-priority wildlife policy issues Wyoming faces concerning hunting opportunity and sportsperson access. 

Recommendations that emerged from the task force in the first year changed state law, granting Wyoming residents a higher percentage of moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, bison and grizzly bear hunting licenses. That reform enjoyed unanimous support while it was being studied at the task-force level. 

But changing how hunting licenses are issued to address the elk overpopulation problems on private land promises to be a heavier lift because it’s such a contentious issue. In Montana, efforts to increase landowner licenses were met with a “firestorm” of opposition and failed

“If it were simple, it would already be fixed,” said Sweetwater County resident Josh Coursey, a professional mule deer advocate who co-chairs the Wyoming Wildlife Taskforce. 

There are no perfect reforms and the group is yet to recommend a strategy, Coursey said. But the body, whose recommendations only require majority support, is “gaining some ground” on endorsing a new “type X” license, which would be valid only on private land, he said. 

Turtle Rock Ranch owner Mark Grant figures he has about 150 miles of fence line that separate his cattle into different pasture systems. Because of elk herds moving through, repairs to that fence network take a couple weeks to complete. (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile)

Grant of Turtle Rock Ranch, meanwhile, is doing what he can to withstand the routine tidal waves of elk damage on his family’s 136-year-old cattle operation. He takes a two-week reprieve from ranching to outfit hunters each fall, but interest is limited and he’s competing for oftentimes wealthy nonresident clients with more specialized outfitters like Wagonhound’s Dax McCarty. 

“They see the fee that I feel is realistic to charge and they go, ‘Oh, geez, that must not be a good product,’ so they go to Dax,” Grant said. 

Elk outfitting hasn’t been a moneymaker for Turtle Rock Ranch, he said, generating just a few thousand dollars in profit a year. 

Many more hunters get to go for free. About 100 a year get permission from the family, he said, and another 225 or so have access to certain parts of the ranch through a state-administered hunting management program. But that pressure hasn’t done much to dissuade herds from using the ranchland, where they still face fewer hunters than on adjoining state and federal lands. 

“It’s getting worse and worse,” Grant said. “The elk stay in these tremendously large herds almost year-round. The only time they break up is to calve, and then they join back up.” 

The elk proliferation is not for lack of effort to push them away: “We’ve tried about everything,” he said. 

Game and Fish once gave the operation mountain lion skins to drape over fencelines in hopes of triggering the prey species’ natural aversion to the predator’s scent. Going for the same effect, workers once left out sacks of human hair gathered from the local barber shop. They’ve toyed with using “propane bombs” to spook off the herds, and have left radios playing by haystacks. 

“They didn’t care about any of that,” Grant said. “They get used to it in no time.” 

Mike Koshmrl

Mike Koshmrl reports from Jackson on state politics and Wyoming's natural resources. Prior to joining WyoFile, he spent nearly a decade covering the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s wild places and creatures...

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  1. Wolves, bears, chronic wasting disease, brucellosis and starvation will eventually thin the herds.

  2. This is what happens when you take away or kill WOLVES.
    You need to do this the natural way like it was meant to.

  3. Too many Elk and no FIX????

    Allow electronic calls, baiting, flying the area up to the day of your hunt, and many more ways to control the population!

    I believe the state would rather waste more tax payer dollars saying it will be difficult to do than changing a few rules and selling more tags!

  4. A few big ranches become sanctuaries for the elk. An example is the Park owned by the Texans in Muddy Mountain. All the other ranches dislike them. They feed the elk all winter and the elk go on the Park during hunting season.many of these ranches allow public hunting but the Texans don’t. It screws up everything for everybody.

  5. Perhaps instead of subsidizing ranches for damages have a special draw for private lands and each elk harvested can pay out to the ranch. Ever area and type has rules and regulations and dates, do the same with a private land draw. They can control how many and when so a ranch dosen’t become overwhelmed and If a ranch doesn’t want to corporate then they can pay for elk damages on there own since it must no be a problem for them.

  6. If you have too many Montana will take them since fishing game introduced the wolf to our state, now we hunt the last of the Mohicans

  7. Rancher graze public lands then public should be able to hunt the private property.

  8. Is there to many elk? Or to many Cows? Or to little feed from over grazing in drought years? Maybe proper land management in drought years and a reduction of both Elk and Cattle would be a more palatable solution? One thing to remember is that the public ground is the public’s and the Animals on it are the people’s. To Ranch and Farm in historical winter ranges of the game species must be shared with out any concern for the intruders, the game must come first.

  9. Rachers in my state will co.palin for days about stuff like this, but cry that wolves need to be eradicated in the state. The irony and hypocrisy is meme worthy at this point. You kill off a keystone species and the whole thing goes out of wack, then cry when the consequences are realized? I’m not any happier about this than they are, however this is what happens:/

  10. I’m not a resident of Wyoming but my boy’s and I would love to hunt elk there. Problem is, I can’t afford non- resident tags. So, I just hunt in my own state.

  11. I think if the land owners would kill twenty cows or calves with public hunters they should be issued one general tag, kill the cows this year get extra tags next year 100. Cows equals five general tags witch should be worth a minimum,50,000 I really don’t like the idea of privatizing our wildlife but this might be fair or least trying to do something!8

  12. I have found all of the reading most interesting it’s been an education for me being from Taylors South Carolina and now a young 63 year-old I don’t know if I would ever have the chance to hunt such a magnificent animal as the elk they are huge and majestic looking and to see them in a herd as described in this article it’s just hard for me to imagine but I would love the opportunity to work the fence line repairing helping for just food and stay Iam sure that I could find way to the job site to work I do have a hemi power dodge ram truck that I’m sure would make the trip but enough Smalltalk protecting the elk and the Elks habitat and ranchers land would be number one there are many ways that y’all could benefit by having me on the team The list is too long to mention all of them.

  13. I agree plain and simple ‘where are the Wolves?! The Wolves are an endemic predator essentially. I think the Elk and the wolves are inseparable. I also speak as a Hunter farmer rancher biologist ecologist. I am not trying to burn any bridges here and for our sake our livelihoods bring the Wolves back cause they Will only ensure the survival of the Elk and I know I like to Hunt. I also Enjoy having A nice tender roasts and I am Willing to pay the price to bring the Wolves back. Sincerely.

  14. Wolves took care of that high elk numbers every were 20,000 elk to 4 ,000 elk in 2020 in the Jackson hole in Yellowstone. Think they did the same in Idaho…

  15. There is a very clear issue with access to private land. I have been a resident of wyoming the majority of my 57 years as a kid private ranchers would allow hunting, admittedly with issues of hunters disrespecting boundaries from time to time , but with that said I think the majority of hunters were appreciative of the opportunity to be able to enjoy the sport feed their family’s and to help the rancher in many cases.
    That has turned from allowable access to turning hunting into a big business for the rancher very few people in today’s society can afford to pay the large fees wanted for hunts on their private property a $12000. Or $16000. Dollar fee to hunt a single animal is beyond reasonable or acceptable. I am an absolute supporter of both our ranchers and sportsman alike but I am sorry if you are not going to allow public hunting without fees then you don’t receive hay or fence subsidies is a simple as that! Those monies being paid out for damages belong to the people not the government. There are many elderly and homeless and poor families that could use those resources to survive than be spent on poor judgement. I believe the system is in need of a more realistic view of what is truly taking place.

  16. The ranchers/land owners complain about the elk, but they lease the land to outfitters and deny hunting to everyone else, or if they do allow hunting it’s only for cows since the outfitters guide for bulls. If you’re going to close off hunting to everyone except those guided by outfitters then stfu about the elk on your land. Most ranchers use the elk as a money making tool via the outfitters then have the gall to cry when the elk numbers get excessive. You created your own problem.

  17. Wyoming politics and their “Good Old Boy” mentality of everything for resident ranchers ând to hell with anyone else. Ever wonder why their human population is so stagnant? I love Wyoming, but I loath their politics.

  18. I am so tired of all these environmentalist and their obsession with wolves. So your saying release a bunch of wolves so they can savagely rip about thousands of cows and calves. You people are sick. Most hunters kill with as little suffering as possible to the animal. Maybe relocate the elk to other regions or states. Increase damage control tags and put some meat in the freezer.

  19. Here they have a problem with elk and what eats elk? Wolves. Why are they having an open season on wolves? It doesn’t make sense. The answer is right there.

    1. Because the wolves will decimate the deer herds and other animals as well as elk. If they could get the wolves to eat only elk that would be great but all the wolves I know eat everything.

    2. Yup. You can’t solve a problem with the same thinking that created it. Wyoming and most western states have a scandalous record and stance towards predators.

    3. The date is old the wolves already desecrated the elk populations. Not cool.
      I’ve been in the woods, seen the packs prints scattering the elk from their early mornings beds. Again it’s a slaughter. They even treed a person in washington not long ago. Ate a jogging teacher in Alaska…. let’s see elk problem vs wolf…. 😏

  20. The Politicians of Wyoming and Wyoming G&F need to follow New Mexico, Colorado and other States which provide private landowner more land owner permits. Base the number of permits by a percentage related to the number of animals that Landowner deals with on their private property . In addition the outfitters rules regulations and fees need to be restructured and improved. The outfitters are making money a the expense of the private landowners and taxpayers. The G&F and Outfitters are the only animal business I know that make money form animals they do not feed or provide fencing and other costs related to raising livestock or wild life. The private land owners and tax payers provide all of the feed for these animals. The new and current methods to hunt the elk, deer and antelope put excess and constant pressure on the game animals. This causes the game animals to form the big consolidated groups that we are see now. We used to see these big groups when we had sever winters, droughts and fires. In short the newer methods and products for hunting has and is training the animals to group more often and easier. Hunting with ATV,s is a large part of the training, along with the constant pressure of filming wildlife for all of the hunting programs. The review of these hunting policy and procedures need to be looked at with open minds, new ideas without the politicians involved who only make the type of ruling that will protect or further their political career.

  21. I suggest building an elk high fence, in small sections ariund the perimeter of ranches that don’t want elk herds on their property. The state could help with grants. Sure, it would take time. What else does one have? Being put out of business? Ken

  22. Wyoming’s open season on wolves is counterproductive to the health of the state’s elk, deer, and moose. Chronic wasting disease is spreading because elk are in large herds and without selective predation that would remove CWD-infected animals. Elk herds in Yellowstone were reduced from hundreds to dozens, and they are far more healthy than elk in the absence of predation.

  23. “gaining some ground” on endorsing a new “type X” license, which would be valid only on private land.
    Game and Fish already has the ability to do this by regulation.

  24. Allow the Crow Indians to hunt the Elk. Best meat in the world and the women would use the hide and Elk teeth, problem solved

  25. Years ago I use to hunt Wyoming in my 20’s and 30’s year of age when the licenses were low. Today there is no way at age 73 can I evan think of paying the high cost of license and high cost of an outfitter. My wife and I would love to hunt elk but we cannot afford it. I hope that some day we would be able to. find a reasonable place to hunt.

  26. Look into Colorado’s wild life ranching program. Also change age limits for hunting licenses costs for people over 65 with a drop in cost’s. The other thing might help if you are a resident for 6 months you can apply for in state hunting license’s.

  27. AN OPEN MESSAGE FROM THE PUBLIC LAND RECREATIONALISTS TO THE LANDOWNERS AND OUTFITTERS: we’re fed up. fed up with your whining about the elk on your private ground, most pushed there because you went scorched earth with your nearly free livestock grazing on the public lands. we’re fed up with the exclusive use of elk as a profit maker and fed up with your little buddy-buddy relationship with the outfitters. we’re fed up with your strangle hold on the Game and Fish dept. we’re fed up with your bought legislature. we’re fed up with you trying to block legal access to public land. be warned, we’re bringing the fight to you and in fact, some of us we’ll even fight you right in the middle of the field. the monopoly is over. there’s a new sheriff in town and you’ll be seeing more of us

  28. This is a man-made problem. It is also so easy to fix. People have got to quit thinking the way people thought in the early 1900s. People killed off all the predators that should be there and wants you the same now. Bring back the wolves and they will take care of the elk.
    There are so many ways the ranchers can keep their cattle safe with a little work not with a gun. We are supposed to evolve with nature not destroy it look at the world today what we have done.

  29. CROSSING PRIVATE LAND TO ACCESS PUBLIC LAND:
    Ranchers/landowners regularly negotiate access agreements with oil and gas companies, pipeline companies, electrical transmission lines, wind turbines, etc. One of the figures I’ve heard for pipelines crossing private land is $50,000 per mile. When one landowner gives an easement to another adjacent landowner to cross his property, the dollar numbers are again in the tens of thousands. With respect to crossing private land to access hunting on sizeable blocks of public land, someone such as Game and Fish or the County Commissioners or a hunting advocacy group would need to purchase an easement for “interesting” money; that is, $50,000 or up.
    Example, Game and Fish has entered into long term hunting and fishing access agreements with numerous landowners along the Big Horn River in Hot Springs County; typically, they are 100 feet wide along the river bank. Game and Fish has a whole section of real estate experts who do nothing but handle issues like access.
    What I’m trying to say that it is normal to reimburse the landowner for a permanent or semi-permanent easement for any number of purposes. And lawyers need to be involved in writing the access agreements which are recorded at the court house.
    This is how its done in the United states and in Wyoming. If you are interested in improving public access, please work with organizations that follow the well established practice of acquiring legal access across private land. Complaining and criticizing landowners will accomplish nothing – try the legal method.

    1. Lee, good argument!
      What would you estimate the cost of an easement on an “infinitely” small piece of private land between two public sections?
      At a Teton County-ish value of $100,000 per acre the land value would be $2.30 a sq. ft. I would pony up $7 for a 3 ft.wide crossing, either purchase or public easement, on that “infinitely” small piece of private land.
      My calculator won’t let me figure the value of $7.00 divided by the infinite symbol, but my guess is that’s its a big number.
      Not many people, billionaires included, have the chance to sell land for that number, county tax assessors should take notice.

    1. Oh wait…these people have killed most of their wolves and now they don’t like the result. Every action has an opposite reaction. Bring the wolves back and after a few years the problem will resolve itself.

  30. None of the landowners or state agencies will “fix” the problem. There are too many competing desires($$$). The federal government will hire “professional hunters” AGAIN! to “thin the herd” and problem will persistent. I’m a public land hunter whose success rate would make others quit hunting and stay with the slow elk.

    1. Get your elk off of private land, unless you want to pay grazing lease like most people do.

  31. 1) ranchers “rent” public land at a cost of about 4.5 CENTS per day per Cow/Calf pair
    2) ranchers fight like heck to keep the public off these federally owned lands
    3) ranchers overgraze public land to the point that there’s no feed, cover or habitat for native species
    4) wildlife has no where else to go other then the “lush” private ground, which was allowed to rest and recover while the rancher abused the public land
    5) rancher cries about ‘all the elk’ yet, when the neighbor kid asks for permission to hunt, “nope” is all they get
    6) rancher outfits the wildlife, profiting handsomely off the back of the taxpayers and sportsman
    7) rancher cries out for damages, gets paid handsomely by game and fish
    8) the public has had enough of the welfare ranchers cries and games. Wyoming is a fence-out state so Mr. rancher, if those ‘terrorist’ elk are comin’ to git ya’, FENCE EM’ OFF your land

    1. Ranchers owe the state millions in backed taxes for grazing on public lands. They haven’t paid crap, they haven’t paid for DECADES. So no, they haven’t paid for the land being used and should get their damn cattle off public lands. Its real simple to look up

  32. Simple Solution = ranchers, get your livestock off public land and we, the public will let our wildlife back on the public land. That is, if you’ve left enough forage and clean water sources for the wildlife. Then, what you do with your private land is your business. Ranchers can’t have it both ways

  33. I would be happy to come up to your Beautiful State to shoot some Elk. I don’t trophy hunt my family and I eat it but I’m not coming up there just to hunt one it’s not worth the trip.

  34. The Elk were here before the Ranchers. Your license fees are to out of line in price and not enough out of state tags. Colorado is over run with to many seasons and it is vastly reducing our Elk herds. Locals can hardly get licenses. They are the locals that actually hunt to help feed their families. The state does not care about locals, just big money. Wardens are way over paid and work closely with forest service to shut down as much public’s ground in Colorado as possible. Yet their families, friends and public employed seem to be allowed in. Heritage and tradition are not considered at all in Colorado. I would suggest that you look into hunters from around your state that will use the meat and some from other states to reduce the number of cows . At reasonable tag fees. Not trophy hunts. The mismanagement here in Colorado is destroying our elk and right to use our lands. Don’t let that happen there. At today’s prices many families could use the resource feeding there families. In Colorado it takes six years to draw a bull license and three for cows. I was born in Colorado and have hunted for 54 years. My heritage and traditions have been resolved as are our animals. Again don’t over hunt the resource like here and respect the local people. Good luck.

  35. My wife and I have a small hay operation near Livingston Montana putting up about 3500 small bales of alfalfa grass hay. We are currently dealing with a heard of approximately 1000 plus elk and it’s just out of control.

  36. It seems a bit crazy to me that this never mentions the lack of natural predators as a cause and probable solution to this issue. When given the opportunity, predators such as wolves will depredate on their natural game and leave livestock alone. Guess that just seems like a logical way to handle things.

    1. Did you not notice that many of the places where the elk are scarce are in the wolf planted areas or where they have moved to as the YNP elk population decreased? Human hunters are NOT the reason for the elk decrease in Yellowstone and Wyoming. Introduced wolves are a big part of it.

  37. How about lowering the cost of Elk tags so that more out of state hunters can afford to go out west. Tags are over $800 for a slim chance of getting an Elk. $ 400 would be much better for blue collar income hunters and give the ranches incentives to let hunters on private land, if ranches don’t cooperate then no compensation for Elk damages.

    1. Brian: One of the main reasons tags are so expensive is that tag sales must carry the costs of administrating wolves and grizzly bears in Wyoming – species which generate no income to pay the cost of game and Fish managing them. Wyoming has spent over $62 million dollars on grizzly bears alone and I have yet to hear a price of wolf management but it certainly is expensive. All of this paid by license sales in order to meet the demands of Threatened and Endangered species – no tax payer funds are used for wolf and grizzly bear management. Its a real burden for a small state like Wyoming to fund T&E management.

  38. Lmao… you bitch and complain until there aren’t any elk. People are the problem. Not nature. Move if you don’t like it. I hope thousands more Elk and Deer and Buffalo and whatever other wildlife finds its way to your ranch prevails and maybe you should just live in the city with the rest of the human infestation

  39. I lived in the Wheatland and Cheyenne area for a while. There have been many times when I politely ask the rancher that owns thousands of acres (private land) “do you mind if I harvest a cow or rag horn for meat to feed my family.” Every rancher says to me no. They look for a guy/hunter a sucker to pay cash (200 to 500)for (trespass fee). I am not paying any money to any rancher. I do not feel bad about the over population of elk and what the elk do to their hay fields. I get tired of the ranchers sad story. The state and Wyoming game and fish should smarten up and not keep giving out money to these ranchers for fence destruction or hay loss. Tired of hearing about the struggling story of ranchers and over populated elk.

  40. If the wolf populations were left alone instead of them being hunted would contribute to lowering the elk populations and get rid of the sick and older animals. Nature has a way of taking care of things if you let it. Also, there are dogs who have been bred to keep the wolves away from cattle.

  41. The only way to reduce these herds naturally,or humainly is to introduce predators,or move these herds to locations where wolves or polar bear are starving! And here’s a better one take herds and slaughter them for meat for the people that are starving right here in America or ship the meat to third world countries to feed the starving people there!!

    1. There’s plenty of low income families in America that could use the meat. Take care of our own first.

  42. The only way to pull these numbers down naturally and humainly is to introduce more predators,there’s wolf populations that are dying because of starvation!! Spend money to move these herds into locations where wolves and any predators are starving!! Or take them for meat!! There are people starving right here in America!!

  43. Part of the problem lies in the access no program. The WGF take public money and pay ranchers to close out hunters under the ideals of allowing. I personally know of several areas that have been hunted by the four generations of my family that are either closed or switched from public access to walk in areas. How is my 74 year old father going to walk 10 miles into an area that he has hunted his entire life? Access no money is the biggest farce perpetrated on Wyoming hunters in history!

  44. It all points to the ranchers! I don’t feel sorry for them. If you don’t like elk on your property allow hunting. Do not charge so much! As a rancher or landowner, If you charge for elk hunting then don’t complain!
    Hunters will move those elk off your property in minutes.
    I don’t and can’t see the problem. It’s really pretty simple!

  45. I have zero sympathy for these ranchers. Like many people have said allow access to the public lands. Quit paying the ranchers. There you go simple fix.

  46. I would like at fill my freezer Along with my daughter my friend and his sons sell some or give some away tags and will fill them!!!

  47. Well if the game and fish along with land owners would come to an agreement, increase the number of non residents licenses. Even drop the price a bit, so the working man can afford a hunt. I for one would help lower the herd number. Along with a few of my friends..but it’s hard to apply for the license, cause it’s so close the first of the year.. we all just got done spending too much on Christmas stuff.. put the app. Dead line out to March 1st. Up the quota, hopefully the land owners will allow a few more hunters on the property… you get too many animals in one spot. It’s not good. Some sickness comes along. Could wipe out a lot of animals. No animals, no money for licenses, no money for lodging, food ,gas, all that. State looses a lot of money..

    1. Plan for the tag people! Get ahold of your priorities! Christmas has gotten to be too much commercialization and people go WAY into debt to please the materialistic children they are raising. Feed your family, not their twisted view of their entitlement.

  48. What would be the issue to relocate two or three thousand elk to areas like the Fremont Winema forest and the Craterlake National Park.
    The native people of the Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin eat and live off of elk and mule deer. The area has over 2 million acres not including Craterlake National Park and the Klamath Wildlife Refuge which currently is being used for cattle grazing which in my opinion is not right. There are plenty of places where new herds could be reestablished and be come a healthy staple for the native people who have lost their natural diet of elk, deer, bison and salmon.
    If I could place an order today, I would take 1000 head for southern Oregon, 500 cows, 200 yearlings and 300 bulls.

  49. Several commentors have advanced the idea of not paying the landowners for damages caused by publicly owned ungulates and predators if they don’t allow the public to hunt on their private land. Won’t work!! Ranchers will never go along with forced access to their private land. Instead, they will tell Game and Fish to remove the publicly owned ungulates and predators from their private land – publicly owned animals which are technically trespassing on private land. What if a landowner went to the Game and Fish Commission and said he was converting his private property to an elk ranch, fencing it in and establishing his own private herd of elk – wouldn’t need a Game and fish hunting permit anymore and he could manage his elk anyway he wants. Not possible??? The Renos in the Rochelle Hills bought private elk and turned them loose and privately managed them for many years or until they multiplied and began ranging far from the Reno ranch. Forced access will not work with Wyoming ranchers.

    1. Lee, you must of forgotten, Wyoming is a fence out state. You suggest that the public’s wildlife are ‘trespassing’….no, it’s up to the rancher to fence out the elk. You must subscribe to the old notion that the rancher owes nothing, yet is owed everything

  50. Pretty simple. Starting immediately, ban outfitting and no more wildlife deprivation checks. The main reason elk are parking on the private ranches is because the same ranchers have already ransacked and denuded the almost free rent public ground where these ungulates normally would be at. Then, when the elk have no where to go but the private, these same ranchers sell the citizen’s wildlife via outfitting and at same time collect their damage check. And now, here they are, on Wyo File, whining. Plus, it looks like the president of the Wyoming Outfitters is putting his two cents in regarding the “terrorist” elk. What the ranchers and outfitters need to know is, we see through you – right through you and you probably won’t find much sympathy here

  51. So quit killing wolves and mountain lions, let them take care of some of the elk. I don’t understand how Wyoming can claim predators are overpopulated and threatening elk herds and then turn around and say elk herds are overpopulated in most of the state. It can’t be both. We all know it’s the ranchers, they’re never happy and expect everything to be in their control.

    Also, I can’t believe I have to say this, but elk are not “terrorists”

  52. Lots of misconceptions in these comments:
    1.) The Wyoming wolf management plan is firmly in place after years of heated debate and is working nicely whereas Idaho, Montana and Wisconsin have serious problems. Outside of their designated habitat the wolves are designated as a predator by the LEGISLATURE OF WYOMING and this isn’t about to change. Introduction of wolves into the Laramie Range is not possible – period!!!
    2.) A Wyoming District court ruling in Washakie County held the State of Wyoming responsible for damages to private land and livestock by wildlife OWNED BY THE STATE OF WYOMING. This applies to ungulates as well as predators.
    3.) Animal damage payments are not made with public funds – the damages are reimbursed by Game and Fish funds generated by sales of hunting and fishing licenses – property tax receipts or other sources of revenue are not used.
    4.) If your cattle, sheep or horses trespass on your neighbors ranch for awhile you may be required to pay the the trespassed landowner for loss of forage – he can actually file a feeding lien against your animals and won’t allow you on to his land to retrieve them until the lien is paid. Not so with publicly owned ungulates – the publicly owned ungulates feed free on private land at the landowners expense. His only way of recovering loss of forage is to file an animal damage claim or bring in hunters paying respectful sums to replace his lost forage. this past winter, ranchers had to buy hay for $250 to 300 per ton to get their livestock through.
    5.) Publicly owned wild horses are rounded up in Wyoming by the BLM and outplaced onto private ranches where the landowner is paid over $60 per month to pasture the PUBLICLY OWNED HORSES. This system is working very well and the public is paying to feed the publicly owned horses.
    6.) ON Wyoming’s winter elk feed grounds, Game and Fish revenue funds are used to feed the elk meaning the nearby private landowners are not burdened with the cost of feeding them usually on their bottom land fields. Taxpayer funds are not used to feed them – only funds from license sales.
    7.) This Laramie elk herd matter is a PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHT issue above all else and the private landowners do control access to THEIR PRIVATE LAND – they also have the right to control how their PRIVATE LAND is grazed and to control predators on their land.
    8.) Private landowners such as in this case, are severely limited in their ability to control over grazing by the publicly owned elk because Game and Fish tightly controls the number of hunting licenses – if Game and Fish would sell the landowners several hundred elk licenses per year and let the landowners bring in the hunters – the elk population could be reduced. The basic question is why does the State of Wyoming have the right to graze the publics elk on private land without the landowners approval or involvement in determining the elk population numbers?
    9.) Yes, mixed land ownership is a huge problem and can only be resolved by large land swaps which block up large blocks of publicly owned land where the public can hunt unimpeded.

  53. As a Wyoming taxpayer and donator to many wildlife causes, I don’t appreciate the fact that Outfitters even exist in our state. The wildlife is owned by the people, yet the Outfitter gets to leverage both the wildlife and the Game & Fish in management and making available an “inventory” of animals. Basically, the Outfitter is a store keeper, yet we the people supply the wildlife “on the shelf” almost for free and pitch in shelf stockers (the Game & Fish) to make sure the Outfitter is fully stocked. Someone mentioned that it’s a racket….right on! To top that off, the welfare cattlemen run their livestock for pennies on the public ground, eating all of the forage and leaving nothing left for the wildlife other then cow patties and degraded stream beds. Any of the public land not nubbed to the ground and inhabited by game, the rancher tries his darndest to keep the public off “their” land. The Elk, having no where to go, head to the private property and end up being called “terrorists” by Outfitter Sy Gilliland. WHAT? Wow, Sy, for a guy who profits off the back of the Wyoming taxpayer, that was a bizarre and laughable thing to say, but of course it’s all posturing for your rancher buddies. To top all of this absurdity off, Outfitter Gilliland is also on the Wyoming Wildlife taskforce. Isn’t that putting the fox in the hen house? Can’t forget those huge ‘damage’ checks the rancher gets because he denuded the public ground, forcing the elk on his property (Where he can also get big bucks outfitting the peoples big game).So, there ya go, the welfare outfitter, the welfare rancher and too many elk on their land. Boo Hoo

  54. I think there is a simple fix. It’s a thing politicians used to do called bargaining. Game and fish will increase landowner tags if Landowners let X amount of people per additional tag to hunt starting on November for cow/calf. The Game and Fish would manage selections and the hunt. It’s always about money but private land owners have rights to. Both sides need to compromise if they don’t want to then all damage payments should stop. Of course all this has to be approved by legislation.

  55. I find this article very interesting being on the heels of corner hopping charges on hunters being conservitive and respectful of land and laws.
    I hunt public land because dealing with the issues stated here in are hard to deal with.
    Hunters and ranchers both being difficult , disrespectful and down right mean.
    Some lands could be opened up with just an access easement .
    Beyond that it’s a hard row to hoe when people are making money off the wild life and/or being disrespectful of their fellow man and invirenment.
    I walk in and pack out on my back and still can’t work with ranchers and ranchers can’t work with abusive hunters.
    I’ll be curious to see what the comittee can come up with.
    If we can’t find a solution desease in our herds soon will.

  56. It is happening in the Shirley Mountains as well. Just the same as the Turtle Rock ranch. Way to many elk. We allow hunting but the elk leave and go up high in the timber and granite that has no access to get a elk out if you do get one. Very rough country.

  57. If your just talking elk it’s easy. If your running your own guide services, your managing your own elk herd. So why is it the rest of the people paying for your land locked public and over priced guided hunts. No public access no public money. Use your 15000 a hunter money for damages and quit crying about the elk. If there is no public access there should be no deprivation money.

    1. Doug I have been saying the same thing for years, also if they don’t allow public access maybe they should be denied grazing rights on public lands. Give a little get a little as they say.

  58. There just seems to be too many elk on the private property. Is this not as simple as issuing more private land owner tags, and I mean a lot more land owner tags as well as more elk predation tags for the land owners. Wyomings elk herd objectives are over their limits and more elk harvest needs to be done to bring those numbers back down.

    1. If you give the land owner tags the ranchers will sell them. If your not rich you won’t hunt. It will be like England where only the Lord’s could hunt. The ranchers and rich owners of ranches have been land locking public lands to build up herds to sell expensive hunts.

  59. Ranchers need to stop complaining about too many elk when they won’t let public hunters onto their land to hunt. Instead they contract with a outfitter and cherry pics a few animals off their land for a big payout to the rancher. Then they get the damage checks from government!! Its a racket!!! Let the sportsman on and they will fix your problem!

  60. I think that the game and fish should assign over populated ranches to hunters. Or have draws for specific overpopulated ranches that would also include hunting access to adjacent, ranches or public land or visa versa…Somewhat similar to what NM did in the past with antelope tags. Unfortunately rancher greed has taken over and ranchers don’t want to allow un-outfitted paying hunters on their land, or want to charge hefty trespass fees. They want to “grow and harbor” large trophy animals so they can charge outfitters more for their coveted landowner tags. The landowner is creating the problem by not welcoming hunters into their property. In addition, many landowners use penny stock leases to graze their cattle on public lands during the summer which depletes the available food for the elk and forces them onto ranches as they seek food to survive. Another example of this mismanagement is where New Mexico banned predator trapping on public land so there will only be predator control on private property. If you were an elk, where would you go?! More food, less hunting pressure, less predators! It’s not rocket science!

  61. I’ve hunted in Wyoming for the past 30 year’s (never have killed an elk) would love to, but it’s sometimes difficult to gain access to private property. However, in all my years of hunting, many times I can’t blame the landowners, because to many disrespectful hunter’s mess it up or make it difficult for those who respect and appreciate the opportunity, therfore it seems to push them into the avenue of guiding to help recoup monies lost from not only these elk, but also from hunter’s that don’t abide by rules. It only takes a few to ruin it for the rest of us. Hopefully one day, I will have the chance to kill one of these animals (for the meat) I’m not concerned if it’s a trophy bull, I’d gladly take a cow/calf. I’m hopeful one day that the management and landowners will explore and succeed in their wishes to help control what they’re making and living for cattle ranchers livelihood.

  62. In bygone days Elk were a plains animal, then wolves drove them into the mountains. Now wolves are driving them back down. The Anti-hunters don’t like anyone killing anything wild, meanwhile ranchers struggle to feed their cows on what feed is left after the wildlife gets through. And believe me it is not only Elk, I’ve seen huge bunches of deer in hayfields. We had rancher friends who lost an entire 2nd cutting of hay to deer. Make up your mind, do you want to eat? If so you’d better come up with a solution to trim those herds down t manageable levels, and it is not the Game and Fish who’ll figure it out. Ranchers had to save wildlife in the early 1920’s and 30’s because hunting wasn’t been handles properly.

    1. Kathleen: All Wyoming ranchers that have serious impact from deer, antelope and elk feeding on their private property need to file animal damage claims with Game and Fish. Damage to hay fields must be fully documented and your local wildlife biologist brought in to document the damage from Game and Fishes view. Videos and photos are an absolute must. The District Courts have ruled that the State of Wyoming is responsible for damages caused by the publicly owned animals.

    2. that was the old generation the beautiful people. mosr of the new generation carry a differant attitude. with the help of the new elites moving in

  63. Stop giving out wildlife damage payments to landowners that don’t allow public easement for hunting. They own the land and can literally set rules to govern public access. It isn’t my job to pay for damages incurred by wildlife I’m not allowed to be a part of managing. Whenever we’re ready to have this discussion, look me up. Until then, stop complaining and deal with the mess you’re perpetuating landowners.

  64. I have hunted in Wyoming a couple of times. No success. Went on our own. Hunted the Snowy Range. Beautiful country. Would like to hunt there 1 more time before I pass. I am now 73, good health. Problem is the expense. Licenses, outfitters cost. Love to go back again. Hope to see Laramie, centennial , Encampment, and Saratoga again. I always show respect for the land and the people. This is a privilege for me. Thanks for the opportunity to speak

  65. Take away the welfare animal damage checks – take away the cheap $1.35 per month per cow grazing fee – open up, once and for all the landlocked public land that the welfare ranchers have been exclusively using for pennies to the acre – hand out more general licenses – eliminate the outfitters in this state who get to play with free inventory supplied by the game and fish. There, that’ll fix it.

  66. Haha. I love the people who have no clue and they say bring in the wolves. Montana, Idaho and WY wolves have proven to make the issue of elk harboring even worse.

    Right now the elk harbor on the private lands to avoid hunting pressure. Pressure that last only a few months at most. But wolves create even great pressure than hunting and they do it year round. The end result is a major shift in elk from the forest onto ranch and farm lands. Which would make the issue even worse as the elk won’t migrate like they normally have in the last. Instead they will harbor year round.

  67. More tags , less money 💰, why would anyone ((average hard working hunter)) want to refinance their home to hunt an elk ,

  68. I don’t believe turtle ranch and other ranches are only making a few thousand dollars on hunts. These hunts are going for $10,000 – $15,000 each and I also don’t believe they are letting over 325 hunters in. It’s interesting how these landowners complain but most allow no access. Why would they when they can sell the hunts and then also get paid for the crop loss. I think if they allowed free access on their property and the Wyoming division of wildlife would generate more tags there wouldn’t be a problem. I think most hunters would love access even if it’s by foot. This is a typical land owner complaining about a problem but not allowing access. They can’t have it both ways. Sorry life doesn’t work that way!

  69. I’ve read many articles and potential options on both over and under population issues for all types of wildlife for 50 years. When it comes to private land the only three viable choices increased landowner tags, trap to relocate and sharp shooter reduction. Wouldn’t it be great if the states and supporting organizations that reintroduced wolves(that decimated elk populations) were required to pay to relocate elk from over population areas into the wolf areas? Sharp shooting will always be apposed by some, but the meat can feed many in need and the cost of processing can be covered by less direct payments to land owners for crop damage. No doubt managing ALL of naturals resources, which includes cattle ranch and human needs, is a monumental task and I thank all involved for their efforts and passion.

  70. I don’t know how many wolves are in that part of the state but that might be a place to relocate grizzlies from our part of the world. They seem to do a great job on elk calves.
    Everyone should have the opportunity to share in our backcountry experience. (Sarcasm)

  71. Hmm, get the $1.35 a month cow/calf off the public land and give it back to the wildlife. Truth be told, these big ‘damage’ checks are a huge source of income for the welfare cowboys

  72. this articale could be retitled: “In the Laramie Mountains, too many cows and an easy fix”. It doesn’t take a rocket science to know that the cattle up on the range and in the mountains have pushed the elk onto the private lands. Let’s see, the public land welfare rancher grazes his cattle for pennies where the elk should be, so elk then end up on the private land. Welfare rancher wants to “sell” opportunities to allow harvest of elk and of course, they’ll also cash those big “damage” checks that the G & F hand out like covid masks. It’s a mucked up system and the Sy Gillilland outfitters and guides only take advantage of it…though Sy was trying to feign outrage in the write up.

  73. I am hopeful the recent ruling which found two out-of-state hunters not guilty of trespassing on private land eases some of the problems everyone faces accessing PUBLIC land in the insane checkerboard patterns set forth by the back-in-Washington Feds before this land was even settled. It has not had a solution, but I hope this ruling changes it.
    I think if ranchers don’t want the Elk, allow the public access to public land. We do, so can they. Or at least quit whining about the problem when you don’t want to be part of the solution unless it makes you richer.

  74. I’m looking at this and thinking about what drove those animals to the ranches in the first place hunters. My suggestion is to have two separate hunts. One during regular season . One two week after the end of rifle season. Elk are creatures of habit. They are used to hunters on public lso they move to private when they are pressured. Then put hunters on the private lands to drive back onto public. They may not all move back but maybe enough to give ranchers relief. Also I know enough people who would jump at the chance to kill an elk for the meat. Hense cows. Have a special hunt and invite people from around the whole country to cull out the heard. Ranchers also need to quit complaining about the problem and giving access to help with the problem.

  75. Bunch of idiot’s on here talking about releasing wolves 🤪 you can immediately tell they are out of state trolls! Simply fix to all of this is #1 cut damage funds to the ranchers if they don’t allow public to hunt and #2 a 10ft walk in easement for public land to public land corner cross PERIOD! There is to much red tape hunting elk in area 7! I know because I hunt it!

  76. One must ask wy is the state/game and fish paying wildlife damage fees to these massive ranches when they arnt allowing the public to come in and hunt? How petty are these ranchers that have a conniption when people corner cross from public land to public land? I dont feel sorry for these ranchers on bit and nor should you!

  77. How about you give more disabled hunters more opportunities to hunt them. Even out of state disabled hunters that would never have an opportunity to hunt elk like this.

  78. Hmmm, lets see….why are we killing wolves when their prey is out of control? Oh, thats right….man thinks he’s better than Mother Nature! Lets kill all the predators and then get subsidized for elk eating all the grass they want for cattle.

    1. I totally agree about the system wanting to kill off all our wolves, when they are the answer. None of this would have ever happened if we didn’t start killing them off because mother nature knows how to keep everything in check!

      1. Our wolves? Introduced non native Canadian wolves into Wyoming to kill off native Elk. You have absolutely no idea what you’re even talking about. You probably don’t even live in Wyoming.

  79. Might be nice to roll some facts in the mix – especially for those of you unfamiliar with the area.

    Area 7 has close to 5,000 resident applications for an “any elk” tag – and just over a 1,000 issued – a draw success rate of 20%. It’s a tough area to draw a tag in. I know guys that have gone 5 years without drawing a tag. Seems like G&F could do a better job of allowing more hunters in the area.

    Second, over the last 20 years a lot of the southern Laramie Range has been burned, Hensel, Arapahoe, Britania…….and others. Its not the same range it was 20 years ago, far more open range, far fewer trees and few trees coming back. More land is accessible to the elk with few trees, more forage. An area I used to hunt was burned 30 +/- years ago and the number of elk in the area grew exponentially.

    Third, the area is quite a bit is far from any town. There are areas of the range that are an hour from Rock River, hour from Douglas, hour from Wheatland. It’s rugged, difficult to access without quite a bit of effort.

    And yes, a lot of the area is land locked by private land. Gaining access to private land became more difficult as the guided/outfitted private hunts took over. But with a little work and effort, you can access public land. Though anymore, people do not want to hunt areas that cannot be accessed with a ATV or UTV. Then you have members of the public that do not respect private land – or public land for that matter. Gates left open, trash, etc. It’s a large tract of land, trespassing is a common occurrence as is disrespect for the land – private and public.

    There are many issues with the range, change in the environment, how GF manages the populations and hunter access.

    1. I really liked Rob Dickerson’s comment. I think each side of this issue feels very strongly about their position and so it’s hard to find common ground that won’t cause a complete revolt by another party. I will say, I know a guy from Wisconsin who hunts the Area 7, and he says that the wolves back there have really thrown deer numbers down to the point where they are struggling to keep their numbers up, so I don’t think wolves are the answer, it would be even harder to manage the wolf population than elk in my opinion.

    2. I’m going to reply to my own comment, couple of additional thoughts. Times do change. I also remember when we would hunt sage grouse in the southern range. You would find flocks of 30-50 here and there especially around Garrett. I have not seen flocks like that in many years. Every once in a while we run across a couple, but never the big flocks. I have also observed over the years the sage brush has diminished which I believe has had an impact on sage grouse. But it has probably opened up more grass for foraging. Times change. WG&F is a government organization, slow to react. I remember in the mid-90’s when mountain lions were out of control and how they just decimated the deer population…….

  80. SY GILILLAND, president of the Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association, described overpopulated elk as “terrorists” destroying some ranches that his guides lead clients on.

    “The landowners out there that are really angry are really angry, and what we’ve done to them needs to be reconsidered,” Gilliland told fellow members of the Wyoming Wildlife Taskforce in March. “We’ve turned a species loose on them that is destroying their way of life, and we did it without asking them.”

    Elk are “terrorists”? WHAT? Let’s see, Sy, if you want to talk about “destroying”….how about the rancher’s cattle that have decimated the range, forests and streams? Cattle do way more damage then elk, but, you already knew that. What you may not of known, though, Sy, is that elk were here long before the rancher and his cattle. The cattle introduced brucellosis to the wild ungulates. Fix the cattle situation first, then get back to us and we’ll figure the elk thing out

    1. It’s our sacred right to abuse the natural resources to extinction and then complain about it.

  81. Years ago in the Cokeville deprivation payments were limited or not paid to any property owners who did not allow a reasonable number of hunters from the general public to hunt on their property. Would this work in the Laramies?

  82. Average hunter cannot afford the legal issues that the Missouri hunters just went through. Here easy fix. Land owners have to allow access to hunters in order to draw damages from division of wildlife. Plus open the seasons longer. Lower the price for non resident hunters. Cut the Draw. Go over the counter. But none of this will be as benificial as Wolves.

    1. Be carefull what you wish for. In Wisconsin, wolves have decimated the deer herd in the north. Same is true in Yellowstone, I think.

      1. Tom- the northern herd of Elk in Yellowstone was in serious need of depopulation. WHen wolves were introduced the herd count was 19,000 +/- . That was 25 years ago. Today the northern herd is at a healthy sustainable consistent population of about 7500. Wolves worked. Back during the early sixties the northern herd in YNP was maybe 35,000 – 40 K and they were starving . Why ? We killed all the wolves back in the 1920’s . So both of those management experiments demonstrated how the Predator-Prey dynamic works, or doesn’t. A cardinal rule of landscape scale ecology is every herbivore needs a complement carnivore(s). Done.

  83. With Wyoming’s policy of all-out war against predators, I’m not surprised there are too many elk in this area. The Turtle Rock Ranch, perhaps with other ranches in the area, might want to ask Wyoming F&G to stop killing wolves and to ask the Feds to relocate some wolves to disperse the herds. They’re very effective! By the same token, bring in beavers to build dams to flood the ground seasonally. Do what Ted Turner did on his Flying D Ranch in Montana, where he restored a 14,000-acre ranch that had been overgrazed by cattle into a healthy predator-prey ecosystem (bison, elk, wolves) and, yes, he sells bison for meat. I’m actually curious to see if “nature” could restore the balance on the Turtle Rock Ranch, which looks terribly overgrazed – either by cattle or elk, or both.

    https://www.tedturner.com/turner-ranches/turner-ranch-map/flying-d-ranch-montana/

    1. The option we should all push, that was not mentioned at all:

      Expand and increase funding to Access YES…. Seriously if we can expand the access yes program, increase the incentives for land owners, increase the budget for managing etc. Increase the cooperation between public and private, etc. We can fix all the issues and all can win.

      This funding and program could leverage all sorts of federal/state money and programs to benefit participating landowners. Everything from invasive species (weeds) to fence repair etc. We could use Access YES coordinators to set up volunteer work days on different properties, we could use funding to pay contractors for fence repair, and more…

      This will allow the public access to publicly owned wildlife and the incentives for landowners to allow regulated access would be significant.

      WY has a great start with Access YES! We just need to expand the program and incentives…

      Oh and with increased funding we could increase the staff for monitoring, enforcing rules etc.

    2. Ranchers don’t destroy the land that they depend on year after year. They are actual stewards of the land, and so many people don’t understand the struggles they face. I realize that there are some big businesses that buy ranches and don’t depend on livestock turning a profit, but that’s not the case for all of them. There’s not an easy answer to this issue; however, nothing productive comes from insults without providing a solid idea on how to solve the problem. Be respectful and work together to find a solution.

  84. Ranchers are just a bunch of whiners. NOTHING satisfies them. They are hell bent on getting rid of wolves to protect their cattle from the occasional wolf foray at calving time. The wolves are the natural hunters of elk and there is a natural balance when they are not persecuted. Then the elk are fed during winter, again preventing natural attrition, and putting elk in close proximity in a small area.
    So Now, ranchers are complaining because the elk are eating their pastures and public land fodder. This doesn’t stop to consider CWD which is spreading because of artificially inflated populations of elk and other deer for hunters.
    If the number of trophy hunters was severely limited, and nature was allowed to take it’s course, this problem would resolve naturally. But Oh No. Ranchers or hunters are dissatisfied so more human meddling they think will solve the problem

  85. I am sure families who need the meat to feed their families would help out. I know you ranchers would prefer not to have a lot of hunters on your land. We are having a hard time with the price of groceries. One elk may feed a family for 6 months or so. The elk need to be treated with respect and taken humanly as possible. I don’t think setting off bombs will do.

  86. We hunted Turtle Rock one day in 2020. It takes some time to be familiar with an area. The elk were there but they ran for private ground West of the area the Grants own. We weren’t absolutely sure of the boundary and played it safe when we actually could have taken an elk. Then it was just a little too far of a drive to do again that year. But, I want to say thanks to landowners like the Grants that offer the opportunity.

  87. Time to import some Grey Wolves to the Laramie Mountains. Healthy wolf packs will catalyze healthier Elk herds and balance the herd count nicely.
    BONUS : since the Laramie Mountains were the first place in Wyoming that Chronic Wasting Disease was diagnosed , wolves will efficiently deal with the spread of CWD by culling the effected ungulate , forthwith.

    What a shame the Wyoming Game & Fish is so heavily biased against the positive value of apex predators, and the Stockgrowers malignantly so. We cannot blast our way out of Elk overpopulation with long rifles alone. That was tried in the northern tier of Yellowstone Park in the late 1950’s and early 60’s when the lack of predators allowed the Elk population to grow exponentially . The Park Service killed thousands of starving elk with paid riflemen and literally bulldozed the carcasses into mass graves. The public backlash over that was so extraordinary the talk of bringing back wolves began then and there. Fast forward to now and we see both Elk herds and Wolf packs in equilibrium.

    Those who do not learn from history …

    1. Grey wolves will follow the food… mostly on private ranches where oh by the way slow domestic cattle also reside… which prey do you think the wolf will attack? The fast and nimble elk or the slow and hefty domestic cattle?! Wolves are not the answer.

    2. Wolves are already in the southern Laramie range. I live in northern Colorado and they have been spotted in Larimer and Jackson Counties.

  88. Too bad natural predators like wolves aren’t around.that might lower the number of elk.

  89. Same ole’ same ole’. Rancher whine about the elk, yet most won’t give access to hunters. These same whiners are more than happy to cash their “damage checks” though. Elk were here first, brucellosis came from cattle. Elk are owned by the people of Wyoming. Unfortunately, the Game and Fish manages elk like livestock. The answer is simple, illegalize outfitting and these “damage” payments. If the ranchers want to curb the elk problem, they can allow access. Or not. We need to stop the cycle of “buddy can you spare me a dime” welfare mentality

  90. Wow. So much wrong here I don’t even know where to begin. And nowhere is there mention of allowing nature’s built in control system, wolves. Or what the relationship is between increased elk, and declining mule deer populations. It’s like they’re in an elk/ranching vacuum. And there’s the common belief held in WY, here I quote a Rock Springs BLM manager, “There’s no elk anymore because of the wolves.” Whaaa? Wyoming’s land management is schizoid.

  91. If the Wyoming GFP department would make better access to the public land some of these problems would be solved by hunters. Remember, if the tract of tax payer funded public land doesn’t touch a road, it cant be hunted.
    Thank you, Todd Meyer

    1. I agree with Lou, incentivize the the ranchers to allow access. Don’t pay them damages unless they let people hunt at no charge! If you want to regulate the number of people on the ranches just issue tags per ranch or ranches based on the size of the ranch or multiple ranch’s in a give area. You could even time slot the hunts so you don’t have a rodeo opening day. If the Ranches don’t want to play than don’t give them money from the tax payers for damages to crops and fences or hay.